Beefeater 24 is Beefeater’s premium offering, but since the Gin Boom has kicked off, some of the spark seems to have faded on this once bright star…
On the 30th October 2008, Beefeater Gin launched Beefeater 24. The gin is distilled in the heart of London (Kennington) and made from 12 hand-selected botanicals, with a unique blend of rare teas. Beefeater 24 followed 18 months of experimentation, trial and patience bringing together a fresh aroma and incredible smoothness to the final product. The recipe itself still includes the core botanicals that define the distinctive Beefeater taste – juniper, coriander, angelica and Seville orange peel to name a few, but combines it with sencha tea, Chinese green tea and hand prepared grapefruit rind that bring with it a new range of aroma and taste.
Beefeater 24 to taste…
Beefeater 24 is slightly lighter in flavour than the original (less juniper on the palate that has been replaced with other notes) with the tea bringing with it a certain astringency / tannic qualities to the finish. It has more herbal and citrus notes than the classic, but the tea and added citrus still play off a familiar London Dry background with a touch of liquorice clearly present (all-be-it very subtle).
Interestingly, although it is bottled at 45% ABV, it still feels less punchy than Beefeater London Dry (which is at 40% ABV). Costing almost £10 more than the original, Beefeater 24 is positioned as a step up in quality, a fact the bottle itself reinforces with its pressed glass design on all four sides (heavily influenced from the arts and crafts movement of the early 20th century).
Beefeater 24 takes its name from its 24-hour steeping process (the copper pot stills at the distillery are charged with neutral grain spirit, then the botanicals are added into the mixture left to soak for 24 hours) and the capital’s 24-hour lifestyle. The inspiration for the recipe is said to have come from the family history books, as James Burrough’s father was a tea merchant by ‘Royal appointment’ to Queen Victoria.
With this historical link (and the fact that tea is a natural botanical), Desmond Payne found the perfect starting point for Beefeater 24. However, with so many tea leaves to choose from, the initial challenge was discarding the strands whose quality varied too much depending on seasonal variances, with those that would contribute the greatest depth to the gin. “The Chinese green tea has a fresh scented note, while the Japanese sencha tea is a rare and fragrant variety at the very top of the market,” he says. “Because the leaves are steamed when harvested, they are not oxidised through drying. This gives clean ‘green’ notes which really lift the aroma of the gin.”
Whether Beefeater 24 is better than the original is debatable. They both have their unique signature, set against similar bases and both are great gins. If you enjoy classic, old school London Dry gins, Beefeater is our recommended go to (out of the two). However, if you are looking for a different twist on an original, or perhaps even looking for a different flavour profile to experiment in cocktails, Beefeater 24 is one of the best alternatives out there.
Within two years Beefeater 24 had become an icon in the gin category and even though it doesn’t seem to have cemented this place, with other craft brands overtaking it on back bars – it still represents a masterpiece of craftsmanship from the world’s most experienced gin distiller, Desmond Payne. It’s a true 21st century spirit that carries the Beefeater name and its traditional characteristics well, whist also standing apart for all the right reasons – it’s the kind of innovation that leads by example.
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